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London 2012 corporate sponsors cash in

Human sporting talent and achievement? Inspiration? Yes, that’s the Olympic spirit – or rather what’s being exploited to the hilt by corporate sponsors, backed by new laws, when London 2012 opens in 25 days.

For the “biggest thing this nation will have delivered in living memory” (Seb Coe) is being done at the expense of the people of London and the UK and their rights.

The justification for spending some £14 billion of taxpayers’ money is that corporate sponsorship makes up the rest of the cost. But association with their brands will reap them much more than the paltry £1bn that GE, McDonalds and BP, for example, have coughed up so far.

New tax rules mean that these companies will not have to pay tax on their Olympic operations between 30 March and 8 November. The loss to the Treasury is estimated at some £700 million.

Media expert Sterling Wong describes branding restrictions – which even apply in Coventry and Newcastle – as “worse than the Communist regime in Beijing”. Under the 2006 London Olympic Games and Paraolympic Games Act (LOGPGA) the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG – yes, another scary acronym) has “brand protection” powers which goes far beyond existing copyright and contract laws.

Branding restrictions mean that only Visa ATMS are allowed at Olympic sites while only Coca Cola, Cadbury, Nature Valley can provide food and drink. Any roadside traders who manage to get into the zone have to sticker over brand names.

But LOCOG’s surveillance extends to cyberspace too. Twitter has already suspended an account belonging to @spacehijackers who call themselves “the official protesters of the London 2012 Olympic Games” (oops – is that an infringement too?)

A blog on Kosmograd says the exclusion zone shows “just how venal unfettered capitalism can be, how its default modus operandi is paranoia, and rather than a celebration of human endeavour and athleticism, it demonstrates more that the power of branding requires such strict parameters of control that nothing can be left to chance.”

Under the brand exclusion zone, courts can order erasure, seizure, destruction and make orders for damages. This could mean unlimited fines and gives police and London 2012 officials power of seizure and entry to private land.

The assurance that local people will benefit from reasonably priced housing following the Olympics has also been thrown to the winds. Rents on properties in east London are likely to be around £953 per month. That excludes most of the 32,000 people on the housing list in Newham alone.

Meanwhile, no expenses are being spared to enforce security during the Games. To add to the thousands of police and security being drafted in are hundreds of US intelligence officers and anti-terror experts.

In Weymouth, 500 police officers will stay at a luxury camp for free with an £80 a night allowance plus overtime for the pleasure, simply to police the sailing event off the Dorset coast. Fortnightly rates at the camp are £1,600- £2,300.

Campaigners who have sought to oppose any aspect of Olympic development are being dealt with in a draconian way. Simon Moore has been arrested twice, jailed and issued with a draconian ASBO for opposing Olympic construction on the Hackney Marshes. He is banned from going within 100 yards of any Olympic venue or event for two years.

The Crown Prosecution Service now says that Olympic offenders will be fast-tracked. Courts will sit extra early and late so that offenders can be dealt within 24 hours. Add in a couple of summer riots and London will resemble an armed camp for a month.
The Olympic flame has truly become a symbol of exploitation and authoritarian rule.  

Corinna Lotz
A World to Win secretary
2 July 2012

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